Jefferson Davis and Pio Nono

Jefferson Davis was always a friend to Catholics.  In his youth as a boy he studied at the Saint Thomas School at the Saint Rose Dominican Priory in Washington County Kentucky.  While there Davis, the only Protestant student, expressed a desire to convert.  One of the priests there advised the boy to wait until he was older and then decide. Davis never converted, but his early exposure to Catholicism left him with a life long respect for the Faith.

When the aptly named anti-Catholic movement the Know-Nothings arose in the 1840s and 1850s, Davis fought against it, as did his great future adversary Abraham Lincoln.

During the Civil War, Pope Pius wrote to the archbishops of New Orleans and New York, praying that peace would be restored to America.  Davis took this opportunity to write to the Pope:

RICHMOND, September 23, 1863.

VERY VENERABLE SOVEREIGN PONTIFF

The letters which you have written to the clergy of New Orleans and New York have been communicated to me, and I have read with emotion the deep grief therein expressed for the ruin and devastation caused by the war which is now being waged by the United States against the States and people which have selected me as their President, and your orders to your clergy to exhort the people to peace and charity. I am deeply sensible of the Christian charity which has impelled you to this reiterated appeal to the clergy. It is for this reason that I feel it my duty to express personally, and in the name of the Confederate States, our gratitude for such sentiments of Christian good feeling and love, and to assure Your Holiness that the people, threatened even on their own hearths with the most cruel oppression and terrible carnage, is desirous now, as it has always been, to see the end of this impious war; that we have ever addressed prayers to Heaven for that issue which Your Holiness now desires; that we desire none of our enemy’s possessions, but that we fight merely to resist the devastation of our country and the shedding of our best blood, and to force them to let us live in peace under the protection of our own institutions, and under our laws, which not only insure to every one the enjoyment of his temporal rights, but also the free exercise of his religion. I pray Your Holiness to accept, on the part of myself and the people of the Confederate States, our sincere thanks for your efforts in favor of peace. May the Lord preserve the days of Your Holiness, and keep you under His divine protection.

JEFFERSON DAVIS

Pio Nono responded to this letter as follows:

“ILLUSTRIOUS AND HONORABLE PRESIDENT,

salutation:

We have just received with all suitable welcome the persons sent by you to place in our hands your letter, dated 23d of September last. Not slight was the pleasure we experienced when we learned, from those persons and the letter, with what feelings of joy and gratitude you were animated, illustrious and honorable President, as soon as you were informed of our letters to our venerable brother John, Archbishop of New York, and John, Archbishop of New Orleans, dated the 18th of October of last year, and in which we have with all our strength excited and exhorted those venerable brothers that, in their episcopal piety and solicitude, they should endeavor, with the most ardent zeal, and in our name, to bring about the end of the fatal civil war which has broken out in those countries, in order that the American people may obtain peace and concord, and dwell charitably together. It is particularly agreeable to us to see that you, illustrious and honorable President, and your people, are animated with the same desires of peace and tranquility which we have in our letters inculcated upon our venerable brothers. May it please God at the same time to make the other peoples of America and their rulers, reflecting seriously how terrible is civil war, and what calamities it engenders, listen to the inspirations of a calmer spirit, and adopt resolutely the part of peace. As for us, we shall not cease to offer up the most fervent prayers to God Almighty, that He may pour out upon all the people of America the spirit of peace and charity, and that He will stop the great evils which afflict them. We, at the same time, beseech the God of pity to shed abroad upon you the light of His grace, and attach you to us by a perfect friendship.

” Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, the 3d of December, 1863, of our Pontificate 18.

(Signed) “.Plus IX.”

In his captivity after the war, Davis was remembered by Pius.  The Pope sent the imprisoned Davis his photograph with the text  from Matthew 11:28  ‘Venite ad me omnes qui laboratis, et ego reficiam vos, dicit Dominus.’ (Come to me all all ye who labor and are heavy burdened and I will give you rest, sayeth the Lord.)

Davis wrote warmly in later life about the consolation that he received of this token that the Pope remembered him.  His family in its hour of need received assistance from Catholics, as his wife Varina recalled:  “No institution of my own Church offered to teach my children. One day three Sisters of Charity came to see me and brought me five gold dollars, all the money they had. They almost forced me to take the money, but I did not. They then offered to take my children to their school in the neighborhood of Savannah, where the air was cool and they could be comfortably cared for during the summer months.”

When Davis died at 81 in New Orleans, Catholic clergy helped officiate at this funeral.  I am sure Davis would have had no objection.

27 Responses to Jefferson Davis and Pio Nono

  • Thank you for this post.

    I am reading (again) Sears’ Gettysburg – slower this time. I had never thought of this possibility. Sears mentions that the South could have called for a Constititional Convention instead of firing on Fort Sumter. In that way, the North would have either negotiated or been the first to open fire on fellow Americans.

    Has anyone else seen that interesting concept?

  • I’m reading again (for the fourth time) Bruce Catton’s “The Coming Fury” and it seems clear that the clamor for secession overcame any voice of moderation after Lincoln’s election, which was seen as doom for the hopes of the south to have new territories come in as slave states (which would maintain a balance in Congress between slave/non-slave states).

    Even better than a constitutional convention (at which the south would not be able to prevail) it would have been better if South Carolina had let Ft. Sumter be… and if Lincoln had not insisted on calling up troops from the states for invasion of the south, Virginia, Tenessee, and N. Carolina would likely not have seceeded, and the common wisdom is that a confederacy of only deep south states would not have lived long.

    In short, there were alternatives to the revolution that was the civil war, but alas– firebreathing secessionists and firebreathing abolitionists would have none of it.

  • Secession would not have happened except in an atmosphere of crisis. If southern representatives and senators had remained in their seats in Congress, they could have blocked any legislation they feared with the help of Northen Democrats. They would have quickly realized that no, Lincoln wasn’t going to take away their slaves, put them in jail and have their slaves and carpet baggers from the North running things in their states. Secession was a completely over the top reaction to the election of Lincoln, and like many over the top reactions it ultimately brought about what was feared.

  • I’ve often been asked for citations of Davis’s correspondence with Pius IX (and wondered myself about how extensive it was). I’ve heard that he wore the brown Scapular and was ultimately given last rites by a Priest.

    In any case, thanks! I found this post because WordPress told me I was linked in it, but it must have been one of those transitory “Related Post” links.

    I’ll be linking this to my existing work on Davis!

  • Thanks, I knew you gents would be on top of this.

    I was always more interested in the military and armchair-general aspects. So many years out of school: the politics/causes give me brain-freeze.

    Once the guns started, it was a fight to the death – tragic.

  • In Supremo Apostolatus
    Apostolic Letter of Pope Gregory XVI on the Slave Trade. Promulgated on December 3, 1839

    PLACED AT THE SUMMIT of the Apostolic power and, although lacking in merits, holding the place of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who, being made Man through utmost Charity, deigned to die for the Redemption of the World, We have judged that it belonged to Our pastoral solicitude to exert Ourselves to turn away the Faithful from the inhuman slave trade in Negroes and all other men. Assuredly, since there was spread abroad, first of all amongst the Christians, the light of the Gospel, these miserable people, who in such great numbers, and chiefly through the effects of wars, fell into very cruel slavery, experienced an alleviation of their lot. Inspired in fact by the Divine Spirit, the Apostles, it is true, exhorted the slaves themselves to obey their masters, according to the flesh, as though obeying Christ, and sincerely to accomplish the Will of God; but they ordered the masters to act well towards slaves, to give them what was just and equitable, and to abstain from menaces, knowing that the common Master both of themselves and of the slaves is in Heaven, and that with Him there is no distinction of persons.

    But as the law of the Gospel universally and earnestly enjoined a sincere charity towards all, and considering that Our Lord Jesus Christ had declared that He considered as done or refused to Himself everything kind and merciful done or refused to the small and needy, it naturally follows, not only that Christians should regard as their brothers their slaves and, above all, their Christian slaves, but that they should be more inclined to set free those who merited it; which it was the custom to do chiefly upon the occasion of the Easter Feast as Gregory of Nyssa tells us. There were not lacking Christians, who, moved by an ardent charity ‘cast themselves into bondage in order to redeem others,’ many instances of which our predecessor, Clement I, of very holy memory, declares to have come to his knowledge. In the process of time, the fog of pagan superstition being more completely dissipated and the manners of barbarous people having been softened, thanks to Faith operating by Charity, it at last comes about that, since several centuries, there are no more slaves in the greater number of Christian nations. But — We say with profound sorrow — there were to be found afterwards among the Faithful men who, shamefully blinded by the desire of sordid gain, in lonely and distant countries, did not hesitate to reduce to slavery Indians, negroes and other wretched peoples, or else, by instituting or developing the trade in those who had been made slaves by others, to favour their unworthy practice. Certainly many Roman Pontiffs of glorious memory, Our Predecessors, did not fail, according to the duties of their charge, to blame severely this way of acting as dangerous for the spiritual welfare of those engaged in the traffic and a shame to the Christian name; they foresaw that as a result of this, the infidel peoples would be more and more strengthened in their hatred of the true Religion.

    It is at these practices that are aimed the Letter Apostolic of Paul III, given on May 29, 1537, under the seal of the Fisherman, and addressed to the Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo, and afterwards another Letter, more detailed, addressed by Urban VIII on April 22, 1639 to the Collector Jurium of the Apostolic Chamber of Portugal. In the latter are severely and particularly condemned those who should dare ‘to reduce to slavery the Indians of the Eastern and Southern Indies,’ to sell them, buy them, exchange them or give them, separate them from their wives and children, despoil them of their goods and properties, conduct or transport them into other regions, or deprive them of liberty in any way whatsoever, retain them in servitude, or lend counsel, succour, favour and co-operation to those so acting, under no matter what pretext or excuse, or who proclaim and teach that this way of acting is allowable and co-operate in any manner whatever in the practices indicated.

    Benedict XIV confirmed and renewed the penalties of the Popes above mentioned in a new Apostolic Letter addressed on December 20, 1741, to the Bishops of Brazil and some other regions, in which he stimulated, to the same end, the solicitude of the Governors themselves. Another of Our Predecessors, anterior to Benedict XIV, Pius II, as during his life the power of the Portuguese was extending itself over New Guinea, sent on October 7, 1462, to a Bishop who was leaving for that country, a Letter in which he not only gives the Bishop himself the means of exercising there the sacred ministry with more fruit, but on the same occasion, addresses grave warnings with regard to Christians who should reduce neophytes to slavery.

    In our time Pius VII, moved by the same religious and charitable spirit as his Predecessors, intervened zealously with those in possession of power to secure that the slave trade should at least cease amongst the Christians. The penalties imposed and the care given by Our Predecessors contributed in no small measure, with the help of God, to protect the Indians and the other people mentioned against the cruelty of the invaders or the cupidity of Christian merchants, without however carrying success to such a point that the Holy See could rejoice over the complete success of its efforts in this direction; for the slave trade, although it has diminished in more than one district, is still practiced by numerous Christians. This is why, desiring to remove such a shame from all the Christian nations, having fully reflected over the whole question and having taken the advice of many of Our Venerable Brothers the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and walking in the footsteps of Our Predecessors, We warn and adjure earnestly in the Lord faithful Christians of every condition that no one in the future dare to vex anyone, despoil him of his possessions, reduce to servitude, or lend aid and favour to those who give themselves up to these practices, or exercise that inhuman traffic by which the Blacks, as if they were not men but rather animals, having been brought into servitude, in no matter what way, are, without any distinction, in contempt of the rights of justice and humanity, bought, sold, and devoted sometimes to the hardest labour. Further, in the hope of gain, propositions of purchase being made to the first owners of the Blacks, dissensions and almost perpetual conflicts are aroused in these regions.

    We reprove, then, by virtue of Our Apostolic Authority, all the practices abovementioned as absolutely unworthy of the Christian name. By the same Authority We prohibit and strictly forbid any Ecclesiastic or lay person from presuming to defend as permissible this traffic in Blacks under no matter what pretext or excuse, or from publishing or teaching in any manner whatsoever, in public or privately, opinions contrary to what We have set forth in this Apostolic Letter.

    Note: This Apostolic Letter was read during the 4th Provincial Council of Baltimore, December 3, 1839.)

  • VETO MESSAGE.

    EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, February 28, 1861.
    Gentlemen of Congress: With sincere deference to the judgment of Congress, I have carefully considered the bill in relation to the slave trade, and to punish persons offending therein, but have not been able to approve it, and therefore do return it with a statement of my objections. The Constitution (section 7, article I.) provides that the importation of African negroes from any foreign country other than slave-holding States of the United States is hereby forbidden, and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same. The rule herein given is emphatic, and distinctly directs the legislation which shall effectually prevent the importation of African negroes. The bill before me denounces as high misdemeanor the importation of African negroes or other persons of color, either to be sold as slaves or to be held to service or labor, affixing heavy, degrading penalties on the act, if done with such intent. To that extent it accords with the requirements of the Constitution, but in the sixth section of the bill provision is made for the transfer of persons who may have been illegally imported into the Confederate States to the custody of foreign States or societies, upon condition of deportation and future freedom, and if the proposition thus to surrender them shall not be accepted, it is then made the duty of the President to cause said negroes to be sold at public outcry to the highest bidder in any one of the States where such sale shall not be inconsistent with the laws thereof. This provision seems to me to be in opposition to the policy declared in the Constitution – the prohibition of the importation of African negroes – and in derogation of its mandate to legislate for the effectuation of that object. Wherefore the bill is returned to you for your further consideration, and, together with the objections, most respectfully submitted.

    JEFF’N DAVIS.

  • “In any case, thanks!”

    You are entirely welcome GodsGadfly!

  • Good grief, slavery was enshrined in the Confederate Constitution. You couldn’t become a member of the ‘Confederacy’ unless you endorsed and embraced slavery. No amout of neo-confederate embroidery will change those historical facts.

    “We reprove, then, by virtue of Our Apostolic Authority, all the practices abovementioned as absolutely unworthy of the Christian name. By the same Authority We prohibit and strictly forbid any Ecclesiastic or lay person from presuming to defend as permissible this traffic in Blacks under no matter what pretext or excuse, or from publishing or teaching in any manner whatsoever, in public or privately, opinions contrary to what We have set forth in this Apostolic Letter.”

    These words have meaning. You should read them.

  • Trevor, you calling me a neo-Confederate is rich. As the thread linked to below indicates, I have long been engaged in combox battles with neo-Confederates.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/06/27/abortion-foreign-policy/

    I will assume that you are not a faithful reader of this blog, or you would not be confused on this point.

    In any of my posts dealing with historical topics, I try to be as accurate as possible and to give the subject his or her historical due. You brought up the slave trade and I cited a Davis veto on the subject that indicated, accurately, that the Confederate Constitution banned the international slave trade. I think you need to grind axes less and read more, lest you become a mirror-image of the neo-Confederates you oppose who are afraid to simply let the historical record be examined, warts and all.

  • Donald – Can you write an article addressing the following: Why do many blacks have Irish last names? Did Irish Catholics have plantations in the South and what happened to the Catholics in the South since it seems that they largely disappeared until recently? (recently re-appeared due to Catholic moving from the North)

  • Here is a discussion of the topic John.

    http://web.mac.com/jamesdwithrow/iWeb/Site/Blog/0C7FF890-B6D6-4BB1-82B6-A6273F647B88.html

    With all due respect to the fictional Scarlett O’Hara, Irish Catholics tended to be underrepresented among plantation owners in the antebellum South. I assume that most of the Irish names are from slaves adopting the names of Scot-Irish who owned them, not an uncommon occurrence, or through unions, in matrimony and out, between blacks and whites.

  • Thanks Donald – That makes more sense. Catholics in the South didn’t disappear, rather, they were never there. The names of black people can be explained by non-Catholic Scots-Irish.

  • Donald,

    The 1839 Apostolic Letter which was read at the 4th Provincial Council in Baltimore makes no distinction between domestic and international slave trading, it condems the practice in its totality.

    Yet Jefferson Davis’ veto twenty one years later doesn’t uphold a ban on all slave trading, only on international slave trading. Did it matter to the Catholic Church whether the slaves were traded from Ghana or Maryland when it issued the letter? Did Pope Gregory XVI have inernational politics or basic human rights on his mind when he wrote it?

    Perhaps you should read the letter again, this time to gain a fuller understanding what the Vatican was trying to convey, before continuing your defense of Jefferson Davis.

  • And perhaps you should try reading what I have written Trevor. In your fierce grinding of the ax you have a death grip on, you have failed to notice that I said nothing about whether the veto was in accord with the text of the letter, nor am I defending Jefferson Davis. You are the mirror image of the obsessed neo-Confederate.

  • Quoting Mr. Davis: ” . . .we desire none of our enemy’s possessions, but that we fight merely to resist the devastation of our country and the shedding of our best blood, and to force them to let us live in peace under the protection of our own institutions, and under our laws, which not only insure to every one the enjoyment of his temporal rights, but also the free exercise of his religion.”

    First, I admit to being a little biased since I am the descendant of people who were enslaved in these United States. But it seems to me that Mr. Davis is being a little bit dishonest here since he supported an institution which took possession of people’s bodies and treated human beings as cattle. Slavery, especially as practiced in the United States, was an ongoing assault against human dignity. How Mr. Davis could possibly claim that southern laws and mores “insure to everyone his temporal rights” is beyond me. This repesents a severe disconnect from the reality he was well acquainted with as a slaveowner. I strongly urge you to read some of the books detailing the internal slave trade before romanticizing the ante-bellum south. (I especially recommend “Slave Trading in the Old South” by Frederic Bancroft. Then, just to put a human face on the suffering, read “Twelve Years a Slave” by Solomon Northrup.) It’s an ugly chapter and no amount of correspondence between the Pope and Mr. Davis can obscure that.

    Also the opposition to the international slave trade was a form of protectionism since it kept the prices of slaves in the U.S. high. Virginia plantations made fortunes in meeting the demands for slaves as new slave territories to the west opened up. Re-opening the African slave trade would have lowered the prices of slaves.

    The anti-slavery movement was laregely spearheaded, both here and in England, by Protestants and had an explicitly religious grounding. They absolutely refused to play footsie with this institution. To my mind it was Protetantism’s finest hour and certainly one of the jewels in the crown of the west. (I am not claiming that all Protestants opposed slavery, merely that the most agressive and active opponents of slavery were almost invariably Protestant; there was no sustained Catholic presence in the movement to eliminate slavery.) Islam resisted the abolition of slavery into the 1960’s.

    Finally, I can only presume that the Irish names which some African Americans have were taken from Scots-Irish since, with the exception of Louisiana and possibily Mobile, Alabama, there were very few Catholics in the South. Even today the American South is overwhelmingly Protestant altho the influx of Latino immigrants is changing this.

    By contrast, Africans in Latin America are largely Catholic, the religion of those who enslaved them. And we don’t want to get started on the Catholic slave regimes in Latin America, which were arguably much more brutal than those of the Anglosphere.

  • “It’s an ugly chapter and no amount of correspondence between the Pope and Mr. Davis can obscure that.”

    No one here is attempting to do that Denise.

    “there was no sustained Catholic presence in the movement to eliminate slavery.”

    Actually Daniel O’Connell, the Liberator in Ireland, supported abolition in the British Empire and America. He served as the model for William Lloyd Garrison. Father Theobald Matthew, the famed temperance priest, was quite active in abolition in this country. You are correct in that no bishop publicly supported abolition in this country prior to the Civil War.

    “And we don’t want to get started on the Catholic slave regimes in Latin America, which were arguably much more brutal than those of the Anglosphere.”

    That is debatable depending upon the country in Latin America, and what part of the Anglosphere is being used for comparison. In any case in Latin America slavery had been abolished prior to our Civil War except I believe in Cuba and Brazil.

    “Islam resisted the abolition of slavery into the 1960?s.”

    I’d say de facto slavery still goes on in many Islamic countries.

  • ” In your fierce grinding of the ax you have a death grip on, you have failed to notice that I said nothing about whether the veto was in accord with the text of the letter, nor am I defending Jefferson Davis.”

    Donald,

    What other purpose would posting the Davis veto memo have than as a rebuttal to the Vatican letter? You’re clearly defending Jefferson Davis here whether you want to or not. Who’s next on your Cavalcade of Confederates seeking redemption, Benjamin Judah?

  • Trevor,

    It seems to me that Donald was just defending truth and making appropriate distinctions. Donald wrote a post about an exchange between Davis and Pio Nono. Best I can tell it is accurate in its account of facts and the little personal commentary is benign. For reason unknown except to you, you posted the Vatican letter condemning the slave trade with no commentary accompaning it. It is left to the reader to divine why you posted it. The observer would not find your cite relevant to the post unless you were somehow trying make the Pio/Davis exchange irrelevant to history.

    Unfortunately, the cudgel you chose wasn’t as relevant as you you hoped. One doesn’t have to defend the Confederacy, slavery, the slave trade, or Davis except to the truth. i.e. Hitler was a horrible human being and caused countless deaths and much more suffering. However, I know of no information that he liked to eat puppy dogs for dinner. Too accuse him of that just because he caused so much evil does not serve truth.

    Davis was president of the Confederate states. He supported the institution of slavery. He opposed reopening the international slave trade. He had a pleasant exchange with Pope Pius IX. It is what it is.

  • “Donald,

    What other purpose would posting the Davis veto memo have than as a rebuttal to the Vatican letter? You’re clearly defending Jefferson Davis here whether you want to or not. Who’s next on your Cavalcade of Confederates seeking redemption, Benjamin Judah?”

    I posted it Trevor to help show how complicated history tends to be and to give another factoid about Davis. As I have indicated clearly in the link that I posted above in this thread, which I doubt you have bothered to read, I have taken to task time and time again neo-Confederates who attempt to pretend that the Civil War was not all about slavery. Indeed I have noted several times that at the onset of the Civil War Davis said the Civil War was all about slavery.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/06/27/abortion-foreign-policy/

    http://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/cornerstone-speech/

    Not all my posts have to mention that fact, since they are simply slivers of the lives of my subjects and not full blown bios usually, and normally deal with some particular incident or incidents.

    The usual criticisms of my Civil War posts on this blog have been that I am a Lincoln worshiper and a Yankee of the deepest blue, so having you come at me from the other angle is refreshing in addition to being hilarious.

    In regard to Judah P. Benjamin, ante-bellum Senator from Louisiana, and the Jewish member of the Confederate cabinet, married to a Catholic, he was a truly fascinating character and will, in the fullness of time, be the subject of a post. He once responded to Senator Benjamin Wade of Ohio calling him a “Hebrew with Egyptian principles”, with this memorable riposte: “It is true that I am a Jew, and when my ancestors were receiving their Ten Commandments from the immediate Deity, amidst the thundering and lightnings of Mt. Sinai, the ancestors of my opponent were herding swine in the forests of Great Britain.” Thank you for the suggestion Trevor!

  • Donald, I’ve read your piece in regards to secession being avoidable if the Democratic party had kept its head in regards to Lincolns win at the polls [1860 Prest elect]. your argument has no basis what ever in this assumption ,for one the Democratic ticket was split asunder. with Stephen Douglas a proponent of popular sovereignty and John C. Breckinridge anti Douglas and anti Douglas’s creed.The contest pre war was the the rights of states. Davis seen the States as sovereign , the federal gov acting on their behalf. the question remains do sovereign states legally have the right to secede from a union of states?.

  • Tom, I have to disagree with your analysis in regards to the clamour for southern Independence or succession.The election of Abe Lincoln in itself was not the catalyst of the rebellion or revolution the problem was inherited by Lincoln, the decline of southern power in the senate, as you rightly pointed out was the basis for separation. As john C. Calhoun once said “The union is a partnership that sectional parity guarantees tranquillity for the nation”.The union changed that configuration by admitting free states whilst keep slave -holding states in check.

    As to Confederate forces firing on FT Sumter, this was exactly what Lincoln had engineered “they fired the first shot”.So much for his promise, where slavery existed so shall it remain unmolested the south had nothing to fear from a Rep adim. It was always in Lincoln’s eye,the horror of slavery although he was never an out and out abolitionist he truly hated slavery.

    As i have alluded to before the civil-war was not fought over slavery, but for Union. as for Va it could not let the Lincoln war machine use her native soil as a land bridge to attack the deep south. While the North fought for Union, The South fought for the Republic.

  • Noleybo, you are mistaken. Secession occurred in a state of crisis that was completely unfounded. Lincoln had pledged to do nothing in regard to slavery in the slave states. Acting with Northern Democrats, Southern representatives and senators could have bottled up any legislation they feared. Instead Secession led to the death of the Peculiar Institution and a fratricidal war that devastated the South. Rarely have a braver people been more poorly led by their leaders than the white Southerners in the Secession Winter of 1860-61.

  • Donald.I must again disagree with your understanding of the crisis as you call it in 1860 in regards to the election of Abe Lincoln.But before I discuss Lincoln and the crisis that you allude to as in 1860, let me draw your attention to compromise after compromise to prevent succession. Missouri 1820, Mexican cession 1850, Kansas Nebraska 1854, all attempts to settle disputes on sectional lines of course not to mention a last ditch effort to advert succession by Davis and other which is general known as The Crittenden Compromise, Lincoln ignored it, he showed utter contempt and disrespect for their efforts.Of course the expansion of slavery was on the table but it showed Lincoln in a true light he’d have no truck with slavery but still he should have had common courtesy to attend.The man was transparent,this pledge that the South had nothing to fear was a total lie. Slavery was safe where it remained was a hollow promise.The Harrison’s Landing[ Genl McClellan] letter proved Lincoln true intent in regards to the slave states when again he showed contempt for the author.

    You again mentioned if the Northern Democrats along with their Southern brethren could have thwarted any legislation proposed by the Lincoln Adim.I put it to you, if they could have agreed on a single candidate the Democrats would have won in 1860.The sectional differences ran deep with Stephen Douglas a fervent support of Popular Sovereignty, animus of Douglas and his policy torn asunder any conciliation between Northern and Southern Democrats.So to contend that a union of both could bottle up Lincoln’s policy is delusional and without recourse to historical accuracy on your part.

  • Noleybo in regard to Lincoln and the Secession Crisis of 1860-61, the only things he was unwilling to compromise on were slavery in the territories and the preservation of the Union. Lincoln even supported an amendment to enshrine slavery in the Constitution if that would mollify the South. The amendment passed Congress and was ratified by three states before it became a dead issue due to the ongoing war. That such an amendment passed the Congress without most Southern senators and representatives being present is a clear indication of how willing Northern Democrats and many Republicans were to allay the fears of the South. Northern Democrats would have been happy to join Southern members of Congress in bottling up Republican legislation. After four frustrating years Lincoln would probably have joined the long list of one term Presidents which was the norm after Andrew Jackson. The South had absolutely nothing to fear from Lincoln. Instead, Southern fireeaters stampeded more moderate colleagues in attempting to secede from the Union by portraying Lincoln as a mortal threat to slavery. Instead, it was the secessionists, by provoking a war they were bound to lose, who signed the death knell of slavery. God must have enjoyed the rich irony.

  • Donald, according to the judgement and interpretations of the Constitution handed down by the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case 1857. That Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in the national lands because that would violate the property rights of the Fifth Amendment.So the highest Judiciary in the land reaffirmed what Southerners always believed, that the Constitution guaranteed their property rights [Slaves ] in any territory.

    For Lincoln to support an amendment to the Constitution enshrining slavery is a nonsense because the the Dred Scott case had already stated that position. That slavery was protect by the Constitution.In fact Lincoln set about undermining the decision because according to the Reps and himself the analysis was erroneous. So what had Southerners to fear from Abe Lincoln?

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